In a new interview published by the Washington Blade, Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama unequivocally stated an Obama-Biden administration would work to advance gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights.

Answering written questions submitted by the Blade, Obama pledged “equality for all.”

In the interview, Obama said he and wife Michelle are “blessed with many openly gay and lesbian friends and colleagues,” crediting an openly gay college professor with broadening his view on gay and lesbian issues.

“A college professor of mine helped me to see the lives of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people from a different perspective. ... And he was just a terrific guy,” Obama said. “His comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these [gay] issues.”

While the Illinois Senator declined to say he would reject a Supreme Court justice or cabinet member with an anti-gay history, he did say appointments in an Obama-Biden administration would be made on qualifications alone, and that such a person would “not fare well.”

With regard to gay legislation, Obama repeated his position backing civil unions over marriage for gay couples. His vow to work toward repeal of DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) – the federal law that bans gay marriage – glimmered that his version of civil unions looked more like marriage.

“If elected, I would call on Congress to enact legislation that would repeal DOMA and ensure that the over 1,100 federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized unions.”

Most state-sponsored civil unions or domestic partnerships have been criticized due to the fact they only deliver about 400 rights and responsibilities to gay couples, making them inferior to marriage.

Obama not only mentions repeal of DOMA, which would accomplish little, but also says he will pursue legislation that gives gay couples federal marriage-like benefits that go beyond the traditional civil union or domestic partnership.

Additionally, he repeated his view that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” – the military's policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly – should be repealed.

But by far the most compelling reply for gays and lesbians was his expanded view on gay unions, which is less nuanced than previous statements, and appears to be evolving.

“As I have said before, I'm running for president to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that certainly extends to the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community. I do envision a time when we all enjoy that promise, but we have to work hard to get there. LGBT Americans deserve real change, and they deserve it now. Certainly as a nation we can all agree that discrimination has no place in our America. Same-sex couples face legal discrimination every day – that we can, and must, end – by repealing DOMA, providing federal rights and responsibilities to same-sex families, and supporting LGBT parents, to start. And we need to remember that it's not just couples that need protection – we need to pass long overdue legislation that ends employment discrimination, enhances hate crimes protections, and repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'”

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